12/31/2005

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO READ

I am looking for something to read, or maybe an author who isn't the same old same old.

I know I don't want to read any well known Christian authors because lately, my experience has been that they are writing because it's part of their contract or book deal to write so many books in so many years. Blah!!! Plus, every time I read something from them, it's meat is in preaching about effort while it is barely seasoned with grace. So often, they leave the impression that if you don't do things the way they write them, you'll never be a good or fulfilled follower of Christ. Again, Blah!! There is no such thing as a good Christian, and anyone who tells you different is either lying or ignorant.

I want something that the publishers were afraid to publish because they thought it wouldn't sell, but I don't want someone trying to sell me garbage, know what I mean?

Definition of Garbage: Some major supposition that cannot be backed up except with more suppositions.

Anyone got any ideas on who or what I should try to read?

PS: Purpose Driven this or that is of no interest to me, nor is anything by any mega-church leader going to interest me. If I wanted to know how to win friends and influence people, I'd read the book. So, this is a challenge for you, and I hope you have fun with it. Don't be afraid to make suggestions, jsut don't make the smae suggestions everyone else is making.

I love you guys, and I hope your days in the coming New Year are days where you can capture the joy and point to it forever.

12/30/2005

EVE OF NEW YEARS EVE BONFIRE

I wait patiently for my friends to arrive. We are attempting to have an annual bonfire tonight, in rain that is increasing. There is no limit to the amount of gasoline I will pour on the fire to start it, and IT WILL START.

The trouble is, who really wants to stand in the cold rain and watch a fire? If it was just misting, I'd say, "yeah, let's do it!".

But it's R-A-I-N-I-N-G!

Oh well, the food and beer will be good, and I can't wait to see my friends again, even if we don't do the bonfire. That's what so great about an annual Eve of New Year's Eve Bonfire; the fire is optional. We have had fire in close to subzero temperatures, and no one has ever complained about being cold. Maybe that's because the fire is twelve feet high by ten feet wide. Who knows?

Anyway, I am hoping I'll get to play pyro tonight...but if not tonight, then some other night.

God's smile is upon you.

12/27/2005

IT DOESN'T NEED A TITLE

Writing. I have always loved to do so. So often, I try to write with a purpose, to have some sort of statement I want to make whether it be about experiences, God, life, or whatever. For some reason, I rarely write just for the sake of writing.

As I was sitting in front of my monitor attempting once again to write with meaning, I was struggling for the words to say, or even a topic to write about. For two minutes, maybe more, maybe less, I wondered what I was doing at the keyboard since I obviously had nothing to write about today.

“Well, Tom, you are at this keyboard because you want to write. Duh”, said the insane small voice in my head.

Here, this post, is the answer to that voice. Tonight I am writing. Just writing, nothing serious, nothing important, nothing that will even remotely make sense after you have read it. Maybe not. Probably not.

Who cares? I am enjoying myself, and I am blessed to have such a medium where someone will actually come along and read these unsystematic words which make no sense whatsoever. Frivolous. If this post were a lawsuit, it would be thrown out of court.

Of course this is not a lawsuit, this is just the meandering of a bald man’s strange mind. Have I ever mentioned that I am bald? Yes, I am. I shave my head once a week, and not with one of those dime store electric razors either. Nope. I go all the way and use the Gillette Mach Three. Now that sort of sounds like a race car, doesn’t it?

What an odd name for a stubble razor, don’t you think? Mach Three! Sounds like it’s got turbo, better watch out.

So as I was saying, I shave my head every week, completely bald and smooth. Over the years I have only cut myself up there a few times. You’d think it would be more, but since head wounds caused by extremely sharp objects hurt bad, I tend to be as careful as I can. Keeping the loss of blood at a minimum is a requirement when you are bald, since blood is the only thing still keeping your head warm (or so I am told). It’s also important because if you cut yourself, there’s no hiding it.

Well, I’m done for the evening. I wanted to write, and I wrote. I feel good, and you know what? I didn’t have to be serious or drive across any statement. I was free to just do what I love doing, and it feels pretty good.

Thank you for reading this foray into the madness of doing something just because I can. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I may be doing it again real soon.

12/25/2005

TRIVIAL MATTERS

I am sitting down with a couple of acquaintances, a husband and his wife, listening to them as they pour out their heart to me. The husband tells me he has never had another man with whom he could confide in, and is amazed that he can do so with his wife listening in. His wife tells me she feels like she could tell me anything; how can this be since they barely know me?

As the evening progresses, they start talking about their careers. They tell me about the stresses, the challenges, and a few of their successes. Over time, this conversation always gets around to the point I dread.

The husband asks me what I do for a living.

“I am a carpenter”, I answer.

“Oh…..”

Suddenly, the quiet is almost unbearable, and I silently ask God if I have to tell them I am also a small business owner and a finish carpenter/contractor of some skill. I ask Him why being just a carpenter cannot be enough? Why do I have to wait for their questions, gently probing me, wondering if that’s all I wanted to be.

This Christian man and his wife are more tactful than most. The husband tells me, of course, that it makes no difference to him what a man does for a living, so long as it’s honest. Besides, some carpenters can make fairly good money, if they are good enough, and willing to take the plunge into the REAL business world, and start a business of their own, he concludes.

I offer no response, but wait for them to leave the subject. I can tell now that they are uncomfortable with this topic as well, and clearly wish that they had not brought it up. I am content to be a listener, but invariably, the conversation always come down to this.

On rare occasions I am pleasantly surprised by people’s reaction to the fact that I am a carpenter. Most times, I am not. That is why I ask God to keep my secret, to let people see me as I am, not as they want me to be, or thought I was. Intimacy cannot be bred on such fickle soil as livelihood or profession. But if you can look past all that stuff, you can get to the heart of matters very rapidly.

I prefer to tell people I am a simple carpenter, if they ask. Whether they be a believer or not doesn’t matter. Their reaction is almost always the same. I find that sad in a way, but not for me. I am reconciled to the fact that I am a carpenter for a long time now. But they are not, and they are missing the best part of a relationship because they are struggling with trivial matters.

How many trivial matters am I stuck on? This post has left me wondering that.

12/22/2005

LIFE

Some men seek glory and honor. Some seek joy and peace. Some men seek money and power. Every man seeks to find himself.

Having been engaged in this same struggle myself, I have come to realize that one of the best ways to find myself is to look at my neighbor. I have been getting to know Jesus for a while now, so there is great hope that one day, I will actually know myself also. But in my journey, I am finding that the more I look at and acknowledge my neighbor, the more I find myself looking back at me.

There is a common thread to the seeking of oneself. It is the search for life to its fullest potential, and no matter what men or women seek, be it power, money, sex, joy, peace, freedom, or release, it seems to me that it is all a search for one thing, a search for one’s self in the fullest life possible.

This strikes me as a universal truth; that to understand one’s place and worth, and to achieve one’s potential is a full life. I hear it spoken so often, “I wish I knew what I wanted” or “I need something, but nothing seems to make me happy”.

But to discover one’s self, to rise above the circumstances of one’s life and soar beyond the mountains of temporary “things” appears to be the place we all are searching for. Let’s face it, we all know that “things” don’t last, that even marriages and wonderful friendships can fall apart, and those are “supposed” to be the things that last forever. If those things can collapse, is there anything that will not?

That is what we are all searching for. Somewhere deep inside of us lies this capacity for life, this longing for it to be full, and this hope that it will last forever. I think this something deep inside of us is God.

When we finally find ourselves, that which we have been looking for all our lives, I am beginning to believe at that moment we will be face to face with Him.

WHY CAN'T WE FEED THE POOR AGAIN?

According to several different sources, the number of people in this world who die of starvation each day is around thirty thousand, many of those children under the age of five. In just ten days, the number of people who die from lack of food or related deaths will eclipse the number of people who perished in the tsunami last year.

In a single year, 10,950,000 will die because of poverty. Almost eleven MILLION!.

We jumped to the aid of the tragedies this year and last, namely the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. We jump at all such opportunities. What is it about poverty and starvation that leads us to such a passive nonchalance? Why do we say we care, and not show it?

Will our generation be the generation to finally decide that starvation and poverty related deaths aren't necessary, and that until we do ALL that we can, we shouldn't rest?

Or will future generations look upon our apathy, and wonder why we did nothing to end it? Will they look upon us and judge us, and will they ask "How could you just let it keep happening, knowing people were suffering and dying? What were you thinking?"

How will our generation explain this? Or will future generations be as blind as we are? Will they ignore the plight of the poverty stricken because we taught them how? Is that what we want to teach our children and grandchildren?

12/20/2005

SHE SINGS WITH THE ANGELS OF HEAVEN

My daughter's voice flowed through me tonight, as I listened to her sing Oh Holy Night. I would be prejudiced towards her anyway, but I think the people of Two Rivers are beginning to become prejudiced toward her as well. As you know, Oh Holy Night has some notes within that are, to say the least, very difficult to reach. My daughter reached them, held them, and never missed a beat.

In the end, several people had tears in their eyes, and many came up to me to tell me what a wonderful voice she has. I answered them by asking them to tell her, and thanking them from my heart. I wanted to record her performance, but in the end, I am glad I didn;t. A recording, to me, might mar the memory of her voice, and I'd rather cherish the way I heard it the first time.

She has to sing it again on Thursday in front of her school, and her teacher promised me a copy of that recording. Since I won't be there, I will be glad to watch that performance, and share it with you guys if I can transfer it here. Still, it won't be the same as live.

Alright, enough bragging. I love my little girl, and she knows that. She also knows she never needed to sing for me to love her. The singing is a gift, and I will cherish it forever.

I really do wish you guys could have been there. I can't explain what a thirteen year old girl's voice can do for your heart, especially when that girl sings from the heart, and sounds more clear than a flute. I think I have tears welling up in my eyes, too.

Thank you for putting up with this post, I know, I gush over my little girl.

12/19/2005

PICTURES OF THE PROJECT I AM WORKING ON

I thought you might enjoy seeing some of my handiwork.



This is a snap of log siding for an interior
main lobby



Have you ever seen such a huge fireplace? It's a double sided gas fireplace, with a granite hearth.













This is a snap of the ceiling, with the fireplace on the left. The ceiling was constructed of Baltic pine tongue- and- groove boards.







Well, there you have it. When you see me write about being a finish carpenter, now you can picture what I do. I hope you enjoyed it. I enjoyed working on all of this.

12/18/2005

WHY?

Why get up in the morning? Why go to work? Why try at all?

What's the point? What is the gain? What's the reason?

Those last three questions are three of the most dangerous questions a person can ask of himself.

I choose to answer them most of the time in this manner.

What's the point? Because I can.

What is the gain? I don't know, but I am going to find out.

What's the reason? Because I don't have to worry about failing anymore, and so I am unafraid to try, thanks to God.

Those answers might not make any sense at all to you. Or, they may seem too short. Maybe they just don't answer ENOUGH.

They are my answers, they belong to me. Your answers may differ; do not worry if they do.

I have developed these answers through countless trials and errors. I did not arrive at them in the course of one evening. These answers are simply a way for me to understand my part, if I have a part at all. They are a way for me to understand that life, and efforts, and thus results do not center around me. I used to get so worked up about the amount of effort I was putting into something, and about the results, regardless of good or bad. And because I did, I didn't enjoy the experience of the process.

The other day, I told a good friend that I am able to look forward to the challenge of an unsolvable problem. He looked at me as if I were a weirdo...for a moment. But then I explained to him that it wasn't the event of the unsolvable problem that was so attractive, but all the experience and emotion that went along with it. In essence, it is life. In the past, I spent my time worrying about results that mostly I had no control over, and fretting about feeling a bad emotion such as fear, pain, or sadness.

Mark my words, I will feel sad, lonely, afraid, and hurt many more times in this world during the remainder of my life. Many more times, I will ask God to give me peace I cannot generate by myself. But mostly, I will walk through these events with the answers to the above questions in the forefront of my mind. They will remind me of who I am, and of Who lives in me. And once I am reminded of that, why...is there anything I cannot accomplish, anything I cannot walk through?

12/16/2005

I AM WHO I AM

Remember when God told Moses who He was?

"I am who I am!"

Then, we all changed it into the Great "I am", or "I am who am", or "Yahweh" or "God".

I wonder if in God's answer to Moses lies one of many secrets to a more peaceful existence with God, with this world, and with ourselves.

"I am who I am"

I am who I am.

I am who I am.

Say it...come on, say it over and over...it feels pretty good.

I am who I am.

I was about to go into a long detective's discussion about WHY God answered Moses in such a way. I was about to speculate the reasons and the meanings.

Instead, I think I'll just leave it alone.

I am who I am, too.

12/14/2005

12/09/2005

MY LITTLE GIRL

My daughter is a wonder to me. Did I ever tell you that just three nights after her birth, she was sleeping through the night? Once she started, she didn't stop. Now, of course, as a teenager (thirteen), waking her up can be a problem sometimes, but when she is awake, I see life more fully through her than I ever have in myself. I wonder why that is.

So it is with great pride that I am announcing my daughter's next opportunity to sing our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, at a basketball game in town. Just last June, she sang it publicly for the first time, and you can read about that here if you aren't already tired of me bragging about my little girl.

She will also be singing a solo for the School Chorus' Christmas concert, "Oh Holy Night"(in a public school? Goodness! What's the ACLU going to say?), which is one of my favorite songs, Christmas or otherwise.

I have to tell you, it is such an amazing thing to watch someone do what they love to do, and I am triply blessed because this is my daughter I am watching. I have always loved a crisp, clear voice reaching heights the rest of us must think hurt to reach. I have always loved listening to music, and the stuff seems to never leave my mind, as I can play tunes inside of my head almost constantly throughout the day. I was once asked why I never listen to the radio when I work. I answered, "Because the music is in my head, and it's commercial free".

I can't explain how much I am looking forward to hearing my daughter sing publicly again. I am excited like a child, waiting for the grown-ups to wake up, so I can open the Christmas presents, this present being the opening of my ears as they are graced with new wine that tastes and sounds better each time it is poured out.

I wish you could be there to hear her. She sings three full octaves, and is reaching into a fourth. Unheard of at her age! And where did she get such a musical gift? I've got news for you. It didn't come from my DNA, nor her mother's. I guess we'll be forced to thank God for this gift after all, because science could never explain it. There isn't even a hint of musical talent anywhere in our family. But that's our good God, calling things into being that are not, or things into being that weren't. Or whatever...

My little girl is growing up, and I love watching her do so.

12/08/2005

STILL ALIVE

Yes, I am still alive.

I have not had much time at all lately, and that isn't going to change any time soon.

Meanwhile, since I am spending so much of my time at the jobsite I have been on now for fifteen months, I thought I'd list one very interesting statistic.

Since I started this project, there have been thirty-one men who have worked for me. Some left because of better jobs, but most (and this is the saddest) had to be let go because they didn't show up for work. Many were very young, but there was one fellow I had to let go this Monday who my heart goes out to. He is depressed, at least that's my opinion of his condition. He struggled mightily to come to work even three days a week.

Finally, I had to make a hard decision, one I didn't want to make. I really liked this fellow, and I feel horrible about having to let him go. But the truth is, I cannot treat him differently than I treat the others. And..I have been treating him differently, giving him chane after chance. It's not that he ran out of chances with me. It's just that I could no longer make excuses for him, and still maintain the level of cooperation I have amongst the other guys on this project.

So, my mind flashes toward him quite often these last days, and I pray he will get help. I wish I had been able to help him, but I feel as if I lack some ability or other to help him out of his lethargy.

That's all folks.

12/04/2005

MAKING THE MOST OF OUR TIME

Ephesians 5:16 tells us to make the most of our time, because the days are evil.

Does that mean we have to be as good as we can to counteract the evil around us?

Or is it possible that it means we haven’t much time, because in this world, the evil is death, and our bodies die?

I think a person must know why he should make the most of his time if he is to do it at all. So…why make the most of our time, why do everything as if we are doing it unto the Lord? What’s the point?

I cannot answer for everyone, but my life is a microcosm of almost always stopping just short of total success. Recently, I have taken to doing everything within my power as best I can, and leaving the rest in God’s hands. To me, that is the essence of Ephesians 5:16.

Why even try? Why bother? Why do everything as if you are doing it for God?

I think the answer lies within us. I think the answer is, because WE CAN.

Anything less than doing what we can…well, is that really worthy of a saint? But maybe that’s the rub; maybe we don’t really get that we are saints already? Maybe if we changed our minds (repented) of what we believe about ourselves, doing everything as if we were doing it unto the Lord would be like breathing for us. Maybe making the most of our time is a response from a changed mind, and not the result of human effort.

Our past efforts made in fear only result in more fear. But our efforts now are no longer bound by fear. Instead, they are bound by grace, and filled with God. If you knew God was in your efforts, if His power was in them, would it change the way you looked at what you do?